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Tiny, but perfect - Jason A. Smith

She's here. After all the waiting and anticipation for the arrival of my little girl, she is finally here.

We weren't expecting her to be born as soon as she was. My daughter came five weeks early, thanks to a decision by my wife's doctor.

The baby, and my wife, had developed some health conditions which necessitated an emergency procedure. Thus, began an emotional rollercoaster, otherwise known as my child's first week on earth.

There was the joyous moment when we heard her first cry, and knew our dream of parenthood was finally a reality. Despite whatever worries the doctor had about her, she was perfect, and the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

She was also very tiny. We found out the baby weighed less than four pounds, and would need to stay in a neonatal, intensive-care unit at the hospital where she was delivered.

My little girl was probably facing an uphill battle, because of her size. But, someone apparently forgot to tell her that, because she just kept getting stronger, and displaying her will to survive -- and even thrive.

I was so proud of her. My pride turned to sheer elation, every time she wrapped her small fingers around mine.

As strong as the baby was, though, we knew my wife would be able to go home before the child. When we did go home, after being in the hospital for about five days, we didn't realize the rollercoaster we were on was about to take another sharp turn.

The day after my wife got home, the Atlanta area -- including the vicinity surrounding the hospital where the baby was staying -- was hit with an ice storm.

For two days, my wife and I were stuck at home, relegated to calling the hospital to check on our little miracle every few hours.

Those were two of the longest days of my life. Part of me had an admittedly foolish fear, that my little girl wouldn't remember me when she saw me again.

After the storm's effects had begun to subside, we learned we could take our baby home. I've never been so happy to enter a hospital in my life.

When I saw her and put my index finger up to her hand, she grabbed it with a grip which seemed stronger than ever.

Finally, we could take her home, and begin helping her to grow into the person she will become.

Since that time, my wife and I have had our share of frustrations and sleepless nights, as we struggle to get the baby on some kind of schedule. I know it might take a while.

But, we've also seen her continue to defy the odds, getting stronger with each breath. As I write this, her weight is inching ever closer to the five-pound mark.

She's a fighter. She's my little girl. She's perfect.

Tiny, but perfect.

I know my daughter will make her share of mistakes in her life, and will probably cause some degree of heartache for my wife, and me, as she gets older. But, I am overwhelmed with gratitude to God for the blessing He has given us, through this child.

Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.